Archive for November, 2014

Rare marine fossil find but no Noah

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

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Platypterygius (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

There has been a rare fossil find in outback Queensland, Australia.[1]

In July 2014, the Wilson family from the state of Victoria went as tourists ‘to search the local free fossil hunting sites’ around Richmond, Queensland. It’s a long way to go for a holiday. Seven-year-old, Amber Wilson, found a fossil of ichthyosaur Platypterygius australis. Found what? It’s an extinct dolphin-like marine reptile and the fossil has a one metre long skull with teeth that are six metres long.

The fossil has been dug up and taken to Kronosaurus Korner, a palaeontological centre at Richmond. The interpretation manager and curator of the Korner, Dr Timothy Holland, considered that this is a ‘landmark’ find for the region. His comments were:

blue-satin-arrow-small ‘I have never seen tourists uncover such a beautifully preserved fossil before’.[2]

blue-satin-arrow-small  ‘It is easily the most complete ichthyosaur skull in our collection and one of the best from Australia’.[3]

blue-satin-arrow-small  ‘I was completely stunned. A professional palaeontologist might search their entire career to find a fossil of this quality. It only took the Wilson family a few hours’.[4]

The fossil has been temporarily called ‘Wilson’ after the people who found it.

Reason for ocean fossils in outback

How could a dolphin-like marine animal fossil be found 500 kilometres inland from the ocean (that’s the distance from Townsville – on the ocean – to Richmond). The Flinders Highway starts at Townsville on the Pacific Ocean coast. Here are the distances from Townsville.

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(image courtesy Wikipedia)

The reasons given in this article for the location of this fossil in the outback were:[5]

  • ‘100-million-year-old fossilised bones’;
  • ‘An extinct dolphin-like marine reptile that once swam through Australia’s ancient inland sea’;
  • ‘Platypterygius lived 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period; at a time when dinosaurs still ruled on land’.
  • ‘Kronosaurus Korner is Australia’s premier marine fossil museum, showcasing more than 1000 fossils of creatures that once inhabited Australia’s ancient inland sea’.

These kinds of statements tell us something about the reasons behind some of the following statements. There is a worldview that is being displayed and promoted. The explanation from a scientific palaeontological perspective is that these fossils were from a time when Australia had an inland sea in ancient times.

The Australian government also supports such a view with this kind of statement:

Why do scientists think this big sea animal existed?

Layers of rock from the Cretaceous Period in the Great Artesian Basin contain many fossils of marine (sea) dwelling animals, proving the area was once covered by the sea. These animals included some very large reptiles such as the plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and crocodiles. You may like to investigate these animal groups (Accessed 20 November 2014).

 

Kronosaurus queenslandicus (image courtesyWikipedia)

A piece of the puzzle is ignored

What piece is that?

The explanation for this extraordinary fossil find of an extinct, dolphin-like marine reptile 500 km from the ocean is that it once swam through Australia’s ancient inland sea. That may have been the case but how are we to know that piece of information? From some evolutionary text book that feeds us with that kind of worldview?

But there is a missing factor that palaeontologists don’t like or don’t want to discuss.

This is what happens when one’s worldview ignores other evidence. This explanation has been disregarded:

‘The waters completely inundated the earth so that even all the high mountains under the entire sky were covered’ (Genesis 7:19 NET).

A global flood is what happened to the earth in the time of Noah. Read about it in Genesis chapters 6-9 (NET Bible). This world-wide flood would have left lots of fossil evidence all over the world, in the outback and on mountains. To me, that reads like a more reasonable explanation of the origin of this dolphin-like animal fossil in the western Qld fossil find. This flood would have left a humungous amount of dead animals and people who would turn into fossils over time.

It is expected that evolutionary scientists who have been educated in and have imbibed a secular worldview will not want to understand or consider the impact of a global flood on the palaeontological remains of a marine creature in Australia’s outback.

Nevertheless, they need to be called to account in at least giving this explanation equal air-play. They don’t do that. For other examples of the impact of the universal Noahic flood, see:

Landscape with Noah’s thank offering (painting ca. 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch) [image courtesy Wikipedia]

It gets us talking

One great advantage of this kind of fossil find is that it gets interested people talking about the ‘how’ of fossil formation and the origins of the earth. This in turn may, but not necessarily, lead to discussion of Jesus’ view of the flood. You’ll find references to Jesus’ view on Noah’s flood in,

‘ For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39 And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man’ (NET Bible).

Here is where the information from Lita Cosner’s article (link above) is especially helpful. Jesus believed in Noah and the flood. Why don’t you take a read of her insightful article?

For some penetrating analyses of divergent world views, see James W. Sire 2010, The universe next door (IVP). This is James Sire’s definition of a world view: ‘A world view is a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of our world’ (Sire 1988:17).

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(image courtesy Inter-Varsity Press)

Works consulted

Sire, J W 1988. The universe next door: A basic world view catalog, updated & expanded ed. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Sire, J W 2010. The universe next door: A basic worldview catalog, 5th ed. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Notes


[1] These details have been obtained from the Brisbane Times article, ‘Seven-year-old girl’s rare fossil find in outback Queensland’, available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/sevenyearold-girls-rare-fossil-find-in-outback-queensland-20141119-11pgpm.html#comments (accessed 20 November 2014).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] From ibid.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Did St Augustine say this to a prostitute?

Monday, November 17th, 2014

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By Spencer D Gear

 

Augustine of Hippo (image courtesy Wikipedia)

This is a story floating around the Internet about St. Augustine, his former sinful life and what a prostitute said to him after he became a changed man through Christ. This story has been repeated by some conservative evangelical preachers.

‘Grace to You’ cited it

John MacArthur’s organisation, Grace to You, is one such group telling this story:

Augustine, great saint of God had lived with a prostitute before his conversion.  After he was wonderfully saved, he was walking down the street and this prostitute saw him.  She shouted his name and he kept walking.  He saw her, but kept his eyes straightforward and walked. She continued crying after him and ran after him.  And finally, she said, Augustine, it is I.  To which he replied, I know, but it is no longer I (Grace to You, ‘Whose fault is our temptation?‘)

Spurgeon also used it

C H Spurgeon’s sermon quotes a view that is now espoused on the Internet in Spurgeon’s sermon, ‘The way to honor‘:

This was the teaching of our baptism. When we were baptized we were buried in the water. The teaching was that we were henceforth to be dead and buried to the world and alive alone for Jesus. It was the crossing of the Rubicon—the drawing of the sword and the flinging away of the scabbard. If the world should call us we now reply, “We are dead to thee, O world!” One of the early saints, I think it was Augustine, had indulged in great sins in his younger days. After his conversion he met with a woman who had been the sharer of his wicked follies; she approached him winningly and said to him, “Augustine,” but he ran away from her with all speed. She called after him and said, “Augustine, it is I,” mentioning her name; but he then turned round and said, “But it is not I; the old Augustine is dead and I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.” That—to Madam Bubble and to Madam Wanton, to the world, the flesh, and the devil—should be the answer of every true servant of Christ: “I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me. Thou art the same, O fair false world— thou art the same, but not I. I have passed from death unto life, from darkness into light. Thy siren charms can fascinate me no more. A nobler music is in my ear and I am drawn forward by a more sovereign spell towards other than yours. My bark shall cut her way through all seas and waves till it reaches the fair haven and I see my Savior face to face.” ‘Tis irretrievable, then, this step which we have taken, the absolute surrender of our whole nature to the sway of the Prince of peace. We are the Lord’s. We are his for ever and for ever. We cannot draw back, and blessed be his name, his grace will not suffer us to do so. The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

Searching for the truth

I’ve searched quite a bit on the Internet, including an electronic search through all of the 13 chapters of Augustine’s Confessions, but couldn’t find any mention of this story. I did find this comment by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild who wrote:

Sources: Using Google I tried in 2005 to locate the St. Augustine quote (first taken from a sermon illustration journal many years ago) but could not find it. It seems that online at least, ours is the oldest citation of what may be an apocryphal reference?

It is said that St. Augustine was accosted one day on the street by a former mistress some time after he had become a Christian. When he saw her he turned and walked the other way. Surprised, the woman called out, “Augustine, it is I”. Augustine as he kept going the other way, answered her, “Yes, but it is not I.”

Did Augustine say it or not?

Seems like it was fiction

This is on a website by Timothy Kauffman, ‘Speaking the love in love‘, in which he exposes this story about Augustine as fiction:

In the process of this self-revelation, Brown[1] instead reveals how woefully uninformed he actually is about Church history. His first example is of Augustine’s encounter with his mistress in the streets of Milan. Brown tells his listeners that if they have not read Augustine’s Confessions as he has, “you’ve missed one of the great books of western civilization.” (12:05). Then he continues with the story:

“And there’s a wonderful story about the time that his mistress saw him down town and he saw her and turned and started running. And she said, ‘Augustine, Augustine, it is I.’ And Augustine looked back over his shoulder and said ‘Yes, but it is not I!’” (12:30 – 12:50).

This sort of creative historical revisionism makes for great sermon illustrations, especially when the preacher does not, as Brown does not, care about truth. What Brown relates as a key point in Augustine’s life was, as Ambrose clearly stated, a fable that had nothing to do with Augustine at all:

Let the man deny himself and be wholly changed, as in the fable they relate of a certain youth, who left his home because of his love for a harlot, and, having subdued his love, returned; then one day meeting his old favourite and not speaking to her, she, being surprised and supposing that he had not recognized her, said, when they met again, “It is I”. “But,” was his answer, “I am not the former I”. (Ambrose, Concerning Repentance, Book II, Ch 10.96)

This story floating around the Internet and in sermons has no relation to Augustine at all and certainly is not to be found anywhere in Augustine’s Confessions. It was, as Ambrose said, a ‘fable’. But Kauffman goes on with “the rest of the story”:

I’ve told that story for years. Let me tell you the rest of the story. She wasn’t looking for sex, she was looking for food. They had a son together and she wanted him to acknowledge their son and give them something to eat. What’s with that? When he did his Confessions, he confessed to stealing apples when he wasn’t hungry, but he {Brown pauses here, getting choked up} … he never mentioned his son. I love Augustine. Augustine R Us. (12:50 – 13:30)

Yet “the rest of the story” is as much a fabrication as the beginning. We believe Brown has probably read Augustine’s Confessions, but the passage of time seems to have dimmed his memory, for in his Confessions Augustine explicitly acknowledges his illegitimate son by name. He not only confesses his great sin, but also thanks God for giving the son to him, and acknowledges that he even took custody of the boy:

“Meanwhile my sins were being multiplied. My mistress was torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, and my heart which clung to her was torn and wounded till it bled. And she went back to Africa, vowing to thee never to know any other man and leaving with me my natural son by her.” (Augustine, Confessions, Book 6, Chapter 15.25)

“When the time arrived for me to give in my name, we left the country and returned to Milan.  … We took with us the boy Adeodatus, my son after the flesh, the offspring of my sin. Thou hadst made of him a noble lad.” (Augustine, Confessions, Book 9, Chapter 6.14)

Clearly Augustine acknowledges his son in his Confessions, but Steve Brown’s point is moot because the fabled encounter with Augustine’s former mistress or prostitute never occurred in the first place. Whence, therefore, the fabrication? Surely Brown has a source for this story but it was not mentioned.

All we can conclude is that the beautiful and emotionally charged story about Augustine and the prostitute is a heart-throb of fabrication that has no relation to fact.

Notes


[1] Kauffman is referring to ‘Steve Brown [who] is a radio show host, author, seminary professor, PCA [Presbyterian Church of America] pastor and occasional “shock jock.”’. Available at: http://www.whitehorseblog.com/2014/08/10/speaking-the-love-in-love/ (Accessed 17 November 2014).

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

Christian apologist DOES NOT like challenges to his views

Monday, November 17th, 2014

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Washington National Cathedral (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

What should we do when men are not as active as they could be in Christian public causes? An eminent Australian Christian apologist took on this topic with some provocative language in his own blog. Is his kind of language the way to get more men off their butts to become involved in taking a public stand for Christ and Christian issues?

Why are there not enough activist Christian men?

This Christian apologist dealt with an important Christian issue in the Episcopalian National Cathedral in Washington DC that had Muslims conduct an Islamic prayer service in the Cathedral. These prayers would have been in Arabic with content unknown to English speakers present.[1] You can read more in, Woman proclaiming Christ ejected from Muslim prayers at National Cathedral. This report stated:

But someone threw a rotting cabbage on their lovely sofa, as DCist laments: “And because love, respect and understanding is [sic] too much of a concept for some people to understand, a person interrupted the service. Of course.” Still, the spectacle of a woman being forcibly ejected from what is ostensibly a Christian cathedral for proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord just before Muslim prayers are about to begin is at very least evidence that we live in strange times.[2]

This objection in the Cathedral was by ‘a brave Christian woman’ whose name is believed to be Christine. Of her, the apologist stated:

Well one brave Christian woman refused to just sit by and do nothing. She went in there and fearlessly proclaimed Christian truth. “Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour” she boldly proclaimed. And she was thrown out of this Christian church for daring to say this! Go Figure.[3]

What did the apologist have to say for the activist woman (and another female activist in a different situation)?

Fearless Christian women[4]

This is some of his language:

  • Why is it that ‘it is Christian women who lead the charge?’
  • ‘These fearless and totally committed Christian women’;
  • ‘Courageous women standing up and being counted’;
  • ‘Remember earlier this year the same thing happened in a church in Germany. Muslims were leading their demonic religious worship there, when a brave Christian woman, Heidi Mund stood up to proclaim Jesus Christ and his Lordship’;

But what about the men? Where were they?

Give non-activist Christian men a rev

What about those non-involved Christian men? This was his language in giving them a rev to hopefully get them involved:

  • ‘I am ashamed to be a Christian male to be honest’ (because of these non-activist men);
  • ‘All the pansy girly-men cower behind their [women’s] skirts’;
  • ‘We need some men with backbone – men with some Holy Ghost boldness to take back what the devil has stolen’;
  • ‘Enough of all these wimps for Jesus and spineless wonders’;
  • ‘Now more than ever we need real men – real Christian men – to stand, to fight, and to do valiantly for our God’;
  • ‘The absence of godly men who will fearlessly stand up for Jesus in crunch times. Why do we always seem to get Holy Ghost-empowered women fighting the good fight, while all these craven weenies just sit at home and watch Top Gear?’

Is that the way to motivate men for involvement or is that a way to get under their skin?

Gutless, spineless men

I had had enough of reading his assault on Christian men with so many inflammatory comments, so I sent this reply.[5]

Thank you for drawing this critical issue to our attention. We do have Aussie men who stand for Christ and against unjust causes. Who could be more of a hero than Graham Preston who has gone to jail for protesting outside abortion clinics in his endeavour to try to save the lives of unborn children? Here’s an interview with him: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siot-HkRolk

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Fred Nile, Member of the Legislative Council, New South Wales, Australia (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Rev Fred Nile has taken more than his share of antagonism from the media and people in our society. The onslaught he received on Q&A from 4 antagonists (May 28, 2013) in a mass media forum was a horrible event to behold. He’s a brave, gutsy man who has stood up for the cause of Christ over many years in the public arena.

I do not find it helpful that this apologist damned men with this kind of language:

I for one have had a gutful of these cowardly, spineless wonders who profess to be Christians but do nothing for Jesus, say nothing for Jesus, and risk nothing for Jesus. They are cowards and fakes, and I want nothing to do with them. It is time for all true soldiers of Jesus Christ to arise and go to battle.[6]

That kind of hyperbolic put down could contain many errors. Who[7] are you to say that men who don’t speak up are ‘cowardly, spineless wonders’ who are ‘cowards and fakes’? That is engaging in the use of an ad hominem logical fallacy. The pejorative term, ‘dhimmis’, is not a good one to call men to active involvement. ‘Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination’.[8]

I, for one, have engaged in many Christian activist causes over many[9] years. I can no longer do it because of major health issues. You don’t know this kind of information.

There are a couple other factors:

(1) Not all people have your, Christine’s or Heidi’s gifts to be able to make coherent, public stands for Christian causes.

(2) What is the church of Jesus Christ here in Australia doing to equip its people in the apologetic tasks of dealing with the enemies we face in the media, high schools, universities, work places, and on the streets? ‘To equip the saints for the work of ministry’ (Eph 4:12) should get a lot more emphasis in our Aussie churches.

Norman Geisler has written about this desperate need in, ‘An Apologetic for Apologetics’.

This apologist’s defensive response

The apologist did not like the content of what I wrote. His response included these points:[10]

He didn’t buy my complaint, claiming he was ‘in good company with those who spoke truth boldly and strongly and without apology. As I just read today in Acts 13:9-11’:

“Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

His claim was that these are ‘very strong words’ where ‘the prophets, Jesus, and the disciples were all unafraid to use the strongest of language as they rebuked error, cowardice and falsehood. As I keep telling my critics, if you don’t like what I write here, no one is forcing you to come here. And given that I have had plenty of other Christians give me a hearty amen on all this, I will keep doing what I am doing, and I will keep calling out the girlie men, whether some like it or not’.

  • As for the ‘dhimmi’ word, he claimed he was 100% accurate and was using a proper term. However, he is not using it in a proper way when he uses it to put down men.
  • He had one commendation for me: ‘You are right on the need of more apologetics’.

Censorship of my reply

(image courtesy, clker.com)

What do you think he would do with my reply to these points of rebuttal? This is the reply that I sent to Culture Watch to respond to Bill:

Your using Paul’s confrontation of the magician, Elymas (Acts 13:9-11), is not a parallel to the complaint I used about the language you used against ‘cowardly, spineless, wonders’ of men who do not engage in the public confrontation as you and others do.

My complaint was about the kind of language you used that could intimidate men. Paul was confronting the demonic.
I didn’t find your response welcoming of the need to possibly reconsider how you engage with motivation of Christian blokes. The use of ad hominem logical fallacies prevents logical discussion.

I sent that response at 6.01pm, Saturday, 15 November 2014. It had not been published by 1.36pm, Monday 17 November 2014.[11] Normally, the apologist publishes the responses within 30 minutes or at least within an hour or two. I now conclude that my view in this last response has been censored by Bill Muehlenberg.

Try mediocre letters to the editor

A fellow responded to my post with these comments:

  • We do need good men who are prepared to stand up, but Bill’s point is valid that women are more likely to do this.
  • Some men have good reasons for not being able to take a stand.
  • When Bill says he has had a gutful of ‘cowardly, spineless, wonders’ of Christian men who do not risk for Jesus, he is not referring to all blokes.
  • Implicitly, he is saying that there are too many like that. Graham Preston and Fred Nile are exceptions.
  • As to my stating that not all people are gifted to make coherent, public stands for Christian causes, he reminded me of Moses who told God the same thing. God used him in spite of his lack of vocal gifts.
  • What we need are people who speak up rather than people who speak well.
  • ‘A well-written, well-argued, letter to the editor of a newspaper will probably fail to impress anybody who is not already on side. But 100 mediocre letters will have a much bigger impression, simply because too many people these days go along with public opinion over rational argument’.
  • For a blog or newspaper column, a well-written article is important but in other contexts we need people to speak up. That’s what is needed.
  • He agreed with my point that the church needs to equip people for this kind of ministry.[12]

This is how I responded to this content.

Mediocre not good enough

I sent this reply online at 7.05am, 16 November 2014. As of 12.58pm, 17 November 2014 it had not been published online.[13]

Philip, how do we know the number of women vs men who stand up for Christian causes? Where is the evidence that more women do this than men? When we see valid research on this, then we will be able to make more objective assessments. To this point, I have not seen such research. Do you know where I can locate such?

You want to compare the ‘cowardly, spineless wonders’ of men with Moses and his inability to speak. I don’t find that to be an equal comparison. Moses was called to an extra-special job. You say, ‘What we need most is people who speak up, more than people who speak well’. That’s nice in theory, but if we want to gain and hold people’s attention, some competence and connection are needed.

You talk about ‘a well-written, well-argued, letter to the editor of a newspaper will probably fail to impress anybody who is not already on side. But 100 mediocre letters will have a much bigger impression’. I don’t have evidence to support that statement. But this I do know: The chances of getting mediocre letters published is very low. If you don’t believe me, try sending a mediocre letter to The Age, Sydney Morning Herald or even your local freebie. I know people have done that over and over and are still waiting for the letter to be published. As a Christian, I’m not of the view that we should accept mediocre standards.

Who are among the leading contemporary apologists?

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Ravi Zacharias (image courtesy Wikipedia)

I have a considerable section in my library by contemporary Christian apologists. These include: Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, Ron Brooks, Ron Rhodes, Lee Strobel, C. S. Lewis, John Warwick Montgomery, Josh McDowell, R C Sproul, John Gerstner, Arthur Lindsley, Gary Habermas, Paul Feinberg, Kelly James Clark, David K. Clark, Gordon Clark, Russ Bush, Winfried Corduan, J. P. Moreland, Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Stephen Gaukroger, Edward John Carnell, John Blanchard, and Os Guinness.

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J. P. Moreland (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

All of these are male and they have been active in the public arena for many years. Only one female is among them on my bookshelf – Dorothy Sayers. The facts are that public and prominent apologists for the Christian faith around the world in recent decades and through the centuries have been male rather than female.

However, a legitimate argument could be that this was during the era when women were supposed to remain silent in the church and their public ministries (including apologetics) must be done with women only and not with a mixed group. Such an atmosphere did not prohibit Dorothy Sayers from becoming an eminent British writer and apologist for the faith.

I have become aware recently of the International Society for Women in Apologetics. The women apologists involved in this organisation are listed on the right hand side of the webpage and there are links to these women, including: Sarah Ankenman (The Valley Girl Apologist), Mary Jo Sharp (Confident Christianity), Judy Salisbury (Logos Presentations), and Nancy Pearcey (The Pearcey Report). Here is an interview with Mary Jo Sharp.

Christianity Today published an article in May 2012 by Jonalyn Fincher, ‘Where Are All the Women Apologists?’ She states that ‘Like women wrestlers, women apologists are curiosities’. I urge you to take a read of this brief article to gain a woman’s perspective on the need to be involved with apologetics. The article states,

In 2010, Sharp debated a Muslim woman in a Toronto mosque where both men and women were allowed to attend. This was a rare opportunity. Muslim women are often prohibited from dialogue with men outside their family or mosque. “Christian apologetics,” Sharp explained, “will need women skilled in Islamic apologetics to speak with Muslim women, to go where Christian men cannot.”

See why Christine Weick did what she did at the Washing Cathedral with her brief protest that had her ejected from the Cathedral. See, ‘Christian booted from National Cathedral speaks out’. Part of her protest, as stated in this article, was:

“Jesus Christ died on that cross. He is the reason we are to worship only Him. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior,” she said. “We have built …allowed you your mosques in this country. Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone? We are a country founded on Christian principles.”

Here is another clip of what she did. See HERE.

Conclusion

To say that more women than men are standing up for Christ in the public arena is yet to be proven to me. The apologetic task down through the centuries and especially in recent decades has been done primarily by men.

One of the issues this article addresses is: Consistency demands that an apologist (who defends the Christian faith against religious alternatives) needs to have his or her own views open to challenge and defence. That was not my experience over this last weekend with this Australian apologist.

Works consulted

Muehlenberg, B 2014. Away with spineless Christian men. Culture Watch (online), 15 November. Available at: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/15/away-with-you-spineless-christian-men/#comments (Accessed 15 November 2014).

Spencer R 2014. Woman proclaiming Christ ejected from Muslim prayers at National Cathedral. Jihad Watch (online), 14 November. Available at: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/11/woman-proclaiming-christ-ejected-from-muslim-prayers-at-national-cathedral (Accessed 16 November 2014).

Notes


[1] Bill Muehlenberg (2014).

[2] Robert Spencer (2014)

[3] Muehlenberg (2014).

[4] Muehlenberg (2014).

[5] Spencer Gear, 15 November 2014 5pm. In Muehlenberg (2014).

[6] Muehlenberg (2014).

[7] Originally I used the incorrect, ‘Why’.

[8] ‘Dhimmitude: The status of non-Muslim minorities under Islamic rule’ (online), available at: http://www.dhimmitude.org/ (Accessed 15 November 2014).

[9] I originally had a typo, ‘man’.

[10] Muehlenberg (2014) comment, 15 November 2014, 5pm.

[11] This has happened previously for me with Bill Muehlenberg when I’ve sent a response to his reply (generally a second reply that I’ve sent) and he has not published the second reply, which was a critique of his view. I find it disappointing that a prominent Australian Christian cultural apologist who challenges cultural antagonism towards the Christian faith, is not prepared to accept and then publish my challenges to his views on his website. I appreciate that ‘Culture Watch’ is his own website and he has the privilege of deciding who is published. However, openness to criticism is surely one of the important dimensions of any apologist’s work.

[12] Philip J Rayment, 16 November 2014 12am, in Muehlenberg (2014).

[13] See Muehlenberg (2014).

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

Death by computer: An app may tell you

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

(courtesy public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

Would you believe that an app has been created to try to predict the date and time of your death?  What next? Take a read of this brief article in Time magazine, ‘This App Predicts When You’re Going to Die‘.

The Time magazine article explained: ‘Feed the app basic information about your medical history and lifestyle, and it spits out the date that might just appear on your tombstone, along with a countdown clock that lets you watch as the seconds evaporate into regret’. The article explained that Deadline’s ‘prediction is nothing more than a statistical estimation, and regular doctor visits are still a good idea’.

Deadline’s accuracy

(courtesy clker.com)

The app is called, ‘Deadline’, but when you go to that link it does at least admit the limitations of this app: ‘Deadline uses statistical information to attempt to determine your date of expiration, but no app can really accurately determine when you will die, so consider this a way to motivate yourself to be healthier, and consult a physician as necessary’.

A God’s-eye view

How do the Christian Scriptures regard the date and time of your expiration – your death? Let’s check out some verses:

1 Samuel 2:6, ‘The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up’ (NIV).[1]

Job 14:5, ‘A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed’.

Psalm 39:4, ‘”Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is’.

Psalm 104:29-30, ‘When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

Psalm 139:16, ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 11, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end’.

James 4:13-15, ‘Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that”’.

Whom will you believe?

Which one are you going to believe? Will it be the word of the computer (a Deadline view)? Or will you choose the word of the Lord (the guaranteed originator of life and the one who determines the when and how of your death)?

I know the One to whom I am committed. He also is that one who said, ‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him’ (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Notes


[1] All Bible quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 November 2015.

It’s amazing what some Calvinists will do

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Reformation Wall in Geneva; from left to right: William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

This applies only to some of them – not all. I picked up the comments of one such person in a discussion on the Internet on the doctrine of salvation that related to Romans 10:9-11.

An Arminian, who has made many posts, wrote:

‘Calvinism has been shown to be untenable regarding Romans 10 – for it would not be right for Paul to tell one of those ones whom Calvinists say salvation was never intended for to believe in the resurrection (which was not intended for them) for their salvation.
Paul preached v.9 because he knew that not one person was not provided for – he knew that Christ died and rose for everyone.[1]

How would a Calvinist respond?

Nope! Verse 8 says that the word of faith is in the mouths and hearts of men PRIOR to their coming to faith. This excludes some men. Jesus said that the word had “no place” in the Jewish leadership of His day.
You have proven NOTHING. You are wasting your time and energy.[2]

I, as a convinced Classical/Reformed Arminian, could not let this kind of response go without a challenge. Well it could be ignored, but not when such important issues are at stake.[3]

James Arminius

Jacobus Arminius (courtesy Wikipedia)

 

My, oh my! What an example of eisegesis. This is what Rom 10:8 states:

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” [a quote from Deut 30:14] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim (NIV).

To what does ‘it’ refer? It is the divine righteousness based on faith (Rom 10:6). The utterance/word Paul had in mind when he associated this righteousness with the words from Deut 30:14 was ‘concerning the faith’ which Paul and others were preaching.
Both examples of ‘word’ or ‘message’ (some translations) in Rom 10:8 use rhema and it means ‘the thing uttered’ (Lenski 1936:654). It is referring to the word/message that is uttered when it is preached, the content of which Rom. 10:9-11 demonstrates.
We know that the Jews from the earliest days of their lives as children learned the message/word of the Law by memory, so it was put into their mouths and hearts by that means. It was designed to enter the centre of their beings.
The view that you have presented to us in your interpretation of v. 8 is not based on the verse’s exegesis. A Calvinistic commentator, William Hendriksen, confirms this in his exegesis of Rom. 10:8,

The apostle continues to “quote” the righteousness that is by faith. The quotation found in Rom. 10:6, 7 ended with the words of Deut. 30:13 [Rom. 10:8]….
There is only one way, however, in which this can be appreciated. That is the way of faith; for God’s word, as revealed both in the Old Testament and in the New, is “the word of faith“; that is, it is the word which, in order to exert saving effect, must elicit the response of faith!
Paul now shows that the statement, “the word is close to you; (it is) on your lips and in your heart” is true (Hendriksen 1980:344, bold & underline emphasis added).

There is not a word in this text that says anything about ‘the word of faith is in the mouths and hearts of men PRIOR to their coming to faith’. Some Calvinists are so blatant in pushing their unbiblical agenda of regeneration prior to faith and unconditional election.

For my refutation of regeneration prior to faith, see,

clip_image002 Does regeneration precede faith?

clip_image002[1] Does regeneration precede faith in Christian salvation?

Is unconditional election biblical? You might like to read my brief articles:

clip_image004 God’s foreknowledge and predestination/election to salvation

clip_image004[1] Elected to salvation and/or damnation?

I recommend the article by Roger E Olson, ‘What’s wrong with Calvinism?‘ (Patheos, March 22, 2013).

Works consulted

Hendriksen, W 1980. New Testament commentary: Exposition of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Lenski, R C H 1936. Commentary on the New Testament: The interpretation of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (limited edition by permission of Augsburg Fortress).

Notes


[1] janxharris#119, Christian Forums, Soteriology DEBATE, ‘Acts 18:4’, 5 August 2014, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7827019-12/ (Accessed 5 August 2014).

[2] Ibid., The Boxer#120.

[3] My response is at ibid., OzSpen#130.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 November 2015.

Old wives’ tale, artificial sweeteners and cancer

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

clip_image002 clip_image004 clip_image005 clip_image007 clip_image008

(courtesy Wikipedia and Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

I have had people visit with my wife and me and when we took a cold can of diet Coke from the refrigerator for my consumption, the person would say something like: ‘Surely you are not drinking that stuff with artificial sweeteners. It’s dangerous’. Then a discussion pursued about the link between aspartame (and other artificial sweeteners) and cancer.

Then there are online statements such as, ‘Aspartame: By Far the Most Dangerous Substance Added to Most Foods Today’.

There’s a fair amount of information sweeping around the Internet and in personal conversation about how it has been shown that if one uses artificial sweeteners there is a risk of getting cancer.

Is it fact or fiction that consumption of artificial sweeteners leads to developing cancer? Could it be classified as an old wives’ tale, which is ‘a belief, usually superstitious or erroneous, passed on by word of mouth as a piece of traditional wisdom’? (The free dictionary)

Is it true?

Risk Factor

public domain

You might be interested in this article from the National Cancer Institute, ‘Artificial sweeteners and cancer‘. One of its conclusions about research in this area is contrary to popular opinion: ‘There is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans’. Why don’t you read this summary of research to demonstrate this fact.
For other versions of this research, see:

Conclusion

That information should put the cat amongst the pigeons or lay some falsehoods to rest.

The National Cancer Institute in the USA concluded:

Questions about artificial sweeteners and cancer arose when early studies showed that cyclamate in combination with saccharin caused bladder cancer in laboratory animals. However, results from subsequent carcinogenicity studies (studies that examine whether a substance can cause cancer) of these sweeteners have not provided clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans. Similarly, studies of other FDA-approved sweeteners have not demonstrated clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans.

So the conclusion that consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to cancer is a fable. It is nothing more than an old wives’ tale.

3d Cancer Cure Crossword On...

public domain

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.